Steve Harmison bowled 21 overs today. They went for 99, and he picked up only one wicket. Given that he was comfortably out-bowled by both James Anderson and Sajid Mahmood, is his place in the Third Test really a given?
Harmison has does nothing in this series to remotely suggest he can bowl match-turning spells; when England needed fine bowling to save the last Test, Andrew Flintoff turned to Ashley Giles ahead of him. While it is true that he has a tendency to drift in and out of form without warning, can England actually afford to risk selecting him for a Test they cannot lose? And, if they decide against playing Harmison, will he even play again?
It is not as stupid a question as it may seem. Harmison’s body language suggests a man lost; the truth is he has been far too inconsistent since the end of the 2004 English summer. We thought he was the next Curtly Ambrose. Then we thought he was the next Andrew Caddick. Now he looks nearer to the next Devon Malcolm.
On a pretty encouraging day, with the exception of Harmison’s bowling, Western Australia reached 309-8. England need to see Harmison do more bowling to see if he is ready for the Third Test. Thanks to the folly of playing only a two-day game, they won’t. We are about to see the extent of the management’s faith in his mercurial qualities.
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